Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chicago’s Doughnut Vault Headed to the Gulch

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 3:49 PM

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  • facebook.com/doughnutvault
For transplanted Chicagoans in Nashville, the local dining scene is starting to look very familiar. In a good way. Dale Levitski created Sinema in the old Melrose Theater. City Winery opened a Music City outpost. I already told you about Jay’s Chicago. I’m waiting (with a watering mouth) for Maneet Chauhan’s Chauhan Ale & Masala House to serve her Indian street food already.

But the recent news that Doughnut Vault has picked Nashville as what looks to be its first non-Windy City location has my adrenaline going (or maybe that’s a blood sugar spike).

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Doughnut Vault is a Chicago baker with a cult-like following. Crowds form to grab the offbeat varieties plus what many say is the best glazed doughnut around. When I say crowds, I mean actual hoards of people lining up. I mean a line around the corner before doors open at 8:30 a.m.

This is because when the tiny DV kitchen sells out, it locks up for the day. If they sell out of sweet, hole-in-the-center goodness by 9:30 a.m.? They tell you to come back tomorrow. The small space feels like you’re standing inside a Tiffany gift box, blue and shiny and full of anticipation, as you wait for your turn to buy a giant doughnut (or dozen), fritter and/or coffee.

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The Vegetarian Flavor Bible Is Packed With Ideas

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 8:44 AM

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A couple of years ago, I included The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg in my annual gift guide. It's a fantastic book that is filled with inspiration for cooks at all levels. Now Page has a new book (with photos by Dornenburg), The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. The book is the result of the author's own experience with eating less meat and the frustration felt by avoiding certain ingredients while shopping rather than seeking out ingredients to use. Page started by deciding what and how she should be eating and then how to make the most of those selections with creative flavoringss and pairings.

The book also addresses how to eat healthfully, acknowledging that not all vegetarian and vegan food is actually good for you. The introduction includes quite a bit of information on nutrition and how to make good choices, which is helpful for any reader, not just those pursuing a veg*n lifestyle. The bulk of the 500-plus page book, however is flavor matchmaking and cooking tips just like the original, but with exclusively vegetarian ingredients. This would be a particularly handy reference book for members of local farm CSAs. For example, there are two pages dedicated to parsnips, which are plentiful right now. Suggestions include parsnip jam with vanilla and rice wine vinegar, a multilayered parsnip soup, parsnips roasted with ginger and orange juice, and parsnips paired with maple syrup and pecans.

Other sections of the book include how to use flavors and ingredients to sate certain cravings, menus and notes from renowned chefs, and a detailed timeline of vegetarianism and the local food and farm-to-table movements over hundreds of years. The book is available online and in bookstores.

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Whiskey Wednesday: Cumberland Cask Releases Ruby Cut

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 7:55 AM

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A little over a year ago, Jason Eskind released his two expressions of Tennessee whiskey under the brand Cumberland Cask. His first two products — the 80-proof Modern Expressions and Barrel Cut, an unfiltered 120-proof version of his brown liquor — have been well-received.

But Eskind hasn't been resting on his laurels. He's been working behind the scenes on an exciting new product that is rolling out in the market this week, Ruby Cut. This is a 90-proof whiskey made by aging his base product in California port barrels. Since aging in the summer is different from the slower process of aging in cold weather, Eskind divided his small batch into two lots and filled an equal number of barrels during the summer and during the winter. The whiskeys lay in repose here in Nashville for six months apiece until it was time to blend them together and bottle them for a unique small release.

The port barrels contribute a lot of color and character to Cumberland Cask Ruby Cut. Probably the most notable effect of the experiment is a dramatic smoothing out of the finish, especially when you consider it is a higher proof than a lot of other Tennessee whiskeys. This is the result of the two separate aging sessions interrupted by some extra time mellowing in steel vats while the other half of the batch is taking a short oak nap.

The original plan was to bottle the summer batch and the winter batch separately, but when they were blended the resulting product was too good to pass up. Ruby Cut will be a very limited release and should be available at better liquor stores around town starting this week for around $60 per bottle. It will not be distributed outside of Middle Tennessee, so if you have a long-distance whiskey aficionado on your holiday gift list, Ruby Cut might just be the ticket.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Wine and Spirits Shop to Open in the Gulch

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 7:22 PM

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Working at SouthComm is about to get a whole lot cooler. Because soon there will be a new wine and spirits shop opening just down the street from our offices, in the retail space next to Hops & Crafts. 12th & Pine Beverage Co. is the newest project from Ed Fryer, the man behind some of the most esteemed wine shops in Nashville. Fryer has opened and/or operated a string of successful operations (although not at the same time thanks to Tennessee's arcane spirits laws) including Village Wines, The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills and (yn) wine store. Fryer also designed and created RED, a game-changer of a retail establishment in Bellevue.

Fryer's new project will be at 315 12th Ave. S., and his plans for the store look really exciting. "We want to create an eclectic, fun, progressive wine shop with really cool wines from small wineries, made by real and honest winemakers that care about the land, tradition and their heritage. We will be the leader in high-end, rare, well-rated collectable wines. We will also have the most upscale, cutting edge spirits and mixers that are the secret ingredients of all of the great drinks made in the best restaurants and bars in Nashville."

In addition, he says, "We will carry many local products, mixers and gift items. We will have craft beers and will add growlers after the holidays to complete the largest selection of growlers in one block, along with those at Hops & Crafts."

In other words, don't look for a Great Wall of Franzia near the front door. As a businessman, Fryer has a reputation for getting ahead of trends, whether offering affordable-but-unfamiliar wines at (yn) or using iPads to inform wine buyers and opening a comfortable tasting bar at RED. He seems to realize that with the advent of wine in grocery stores on the horizon, the best future for a small wine store is to work collaboratively with customers to introduce them to wines and spirits that likely won't make it to the shelves at Harris Teeter or The Turnip Truck next door.

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The Sweet Spot: Limited-Edition Halloween Candy

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 2:02 PM

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The Sweet Spot is a new weekly Bites feature where sugar addict Megan Seling reviews some of the best, worst and weirdest sweet treats sold here in Nashville. It will appear on the blog on Tuesdays.

What it is: Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Caramel Apple Oreos, Candy Corn M&Ms, Pumpkin Spice M&Ms, Caramel Apple Milky Ways, Caramel Apple Twizzlers, Starburst Candy Corn

Where I found it: Target on White Bridge Road; prices vary around $2.50-$5

What it tastes like: Oh man, where do I start? I couldn't climb this artificially autumnal sugar mountain on my own, so I brought this heap of high-fructose corn syrup into the office where my co-workers could enjoy (and/or suffer) along with me. There was delight, disgust and audible barfing sounds as everyone dug in.

The candy that got the most negative reaction were the Candy Corn M&Ms, which are jumbo-sized orange, white and yellow white-chocolate M&Ms that taste more like cotton candy than they do candy corn. They're sickeningly sweet, but I did not hate them; everyone else hated them. "I hate that Candy Corn M&M more than anything I’ve ever tasted," said one brave eater while tossing the few pieces left in her hand into the trash. The Pumpkin Spice M&Ms passed all tests, however, with some folks claiming they don't taste any different from regular M&Ms. The pumpkin spice flavor is not overwhelming, and slightly off. When I pushed them aside, saying they just taste like burnt M&Ms, others grabbed for them. "That sounds delicious!" said one staffer, wrongly.

The Starburst Candy Corn, a giant bag of congealed rainbow-colored goo that vaguely carries the texture of candy corn when not globbed together by sugary juice that is seeping from the candies, also wasn't very popular. Only one person on staff enjoyed them. "I actually really like the Starbust candy corn," he said, grabbing for the bag. "They just taste like Starbursts!"

"But look at them!" I cried, pointing out the fact that they were all melting together at room temperature.

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America, Pho Yeah

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 1:52 PM

A Bites tipster in Clarksville passes along the following restaurant sign, to which we can only add our applause.

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We'll accept alternate headlines or captions in the comments, if you have them.

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12 South Winter Warmer Tickets On Sale This Friday, But You Can Cut the Line!

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 1:04 PM

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IMHO (in my hoppy opinion) the 12 South Winter Warmer is the premiere beer festival in town. Organizer Matt Leff of Rhizome Productions limits the number of tickets sold to 1000 to allow for patrons to really interact with the brewers at the event, who reciprocate this attention by bringing some truly special beers to share with their fans. Leff expects 40+ breweries to exhibit at the 2014 12 South Winter Warmer, so bundle up and come thirsty.

This year's event will return to Sevier Park on Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tickets will go on sale this Friday, Oct 31 at 10 a.m,, and if past years are any indication, will sell out within minutes. However, if you don't trust your luck to snag some of those desired ducats, there's another fun chance on Thursday to win a chance to buy some the day before they officially go on sale.

Starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, at Craft Brewed at 2502 Franklin Pike, visitors to that fine taproom will receive raffle tickets. At 7, the 12 South Winter Warmer organizers will begin to draw numbers, and anyone holding the lucky tickets will get the chance to buy two tickets in advance. You must be in attendance at 7 to win, and also be prepared to buy your tickets immediately. If for some reason you only want to buy one ticket, they'll either draw another number, or I'm sure you could find a friend in attendance who might be willing to buy you a pint for the chance to purchase your other ticket.

The first hundred tickets will be sold in this manner, with the rest of them flying into Internet shopping carts the next morning at 10, so make plans and bookmark the sale site!

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Sean Brock to Sign His New Cookbook Tonight at the Hermitage Hotel

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM

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Sean Brock of Husk has long been revered as one of the top chefs in the country, and fans have been anxiously awaiting the release of his first cookbook, Heritage. The gorgeous book includes some of Chef Brock's most popular recipes and even has a contribution from his local friend, pitmaster Pat Martin. The national press has loaded the book with praise, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it get a James Beard nom next year.

Speaking of noms (nom, nom), Brock is teaming up with another buddy, Tyler Brown, at the Hermitage Hotel for a book signing event tonight. Brock and Brown worked together at the hotel's Capitol Grille in the early part of last decade, and the two made a particularly successful pair as Brock made his first splashes in the national culinary pool. Tonight from 5:30 until 7:30, Brock will be signing books and sharing stories and recipes while the staff of the Capitol Grille offers dishes from the book.

Tickets are $90 and include cocktail, beer, wine and passed dishes from Heritage, plus each attendee will receive a signed copy of the book. You can purchase your ticket in advance at the event website or just show up and pay at the door. It should prove to be a lively night of great food and conversation!

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Day of the Dead Tequila Festival Hits East Nashville

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 9:05 AM

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The lifespan of a typical individual's attitude toward Halloween progresses from excitement about getting to wear a costume and collect treats to apathy toward getting to wear a costume and collect treats to glee about getting to wear a (sexy) costume and hunt down (boozy) treats. If you’re in the latter category you may be happy to co-opt yet another holiday as a drinking fest (as has happened with Cinco de Mayo, for example).

But the day after Halloween actually has a venerable historical basis as a cultural festival, especially in Mexico. So it makes a little more sense that this year on Nov. 1, East Nashville will host the Day of the Dead Tequila Festival to celebrate and sip the traditional spirit of our neighbors south of the border. The event will take place at The Pavilion East at 1006 Fatherland St. and will run from 6 to 10 p.m.

Attendees will have the chance to sample 16 varieties of tequila from famous producers like Jose Cuervo, El Jimador, Herradura, Cabo Diablo and others for their entry fee of $29. Chago's Cantina will provide chips and salsa for snacking while you taste your way around Mexico, and if you need more comida than that, they'll also be selling tacos for $2 apiece. Buy your tickets at the event website before they sell out. ¡Ándale!

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We've Got a Taste of Nashville Winner

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 7:51 AM

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Y'all sure are excited about the upcoming Taste of Nashville on Nov. 7 at Rocketown! Our contest for two free tickets received more entries than any other similar post that I can remember, even when we were giving away free Bonnaroo tix a couple of years back.

We asked you to share which restaurants you were most excited about trying out at the tasting event that benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee and Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee. Every participating restaurant received at least one mention in the comments, but you seem most jazzed about meeting Dale Levitski of Sinema and seeing what chef Deb Paquette will whip up from Etch. Other popular eateries that round out the top five are Union Common, Party Fowl and The Treehouse.

In the end, the random number generator kicked out number 13, which corresponded to a comment by Jill, who is excited to try out both Sinema and Union Common. I can't blame her for not making up her mind between those two excellent choices. So Jill, please email me at cchamberlain (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll hook you up directly with the event organizers to get you and your plus-1 on the guest list. If we don't hear from Jill by this Friday at lunch, we'll draw another winner so these valuable tickets don't go unused.

For the rest of you non-winners, you can still buy your own tickets at the event website.

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